Florida has a zero tolerance policy for people under the age of 21 caught driving under the influence of alcohol. Even if you drive while under the usual .08 blood alcohol content (BAC) limit, you may still face stiff penalties. Florida law provides for both administrative and possible criminal penalties for underage drivers cited for driving under the influence (DUI). If you get caught for underage DUI, you may be able to avoid by hiring a skilled Sarasota underage DUI attorney to handle your case.

Underage DUI May Involve Both Administrative and Criminal Penalties

If you’re under 21 and blow over .02 after driving or being in actual physical control of a vehicle, you may be cited for DUI according to Florida Statutes section 322.2616. The violation of this statute is neither a traffic infraction nor a criminal offense, and if the arresting officer decides to detain you, it will not be considered a formal arrest.

Violations of Florida Statutes section 322.2616 will result in administrative penalties, which occur independently of the criminal justice system. These penalties will be recorded in your driver’s history, as opposed to your criminal record.

In some circumstances, however, you may also face criminal penalties for an underage DUI. Indeed, section 322.2616 does not rule out the possibility for prosecutors to bring charges for DUI under Florida Statutes section 316.193. When an underage driver blows .08 or above, it is very likely he or she will be prosecuted under the standard criminal DUI statute.

The Penalties for a Florida Underage DUI Conviction

If you were under 21 at the time you drove with a BAC at or above .08, you may face the same penalties as any person convicted of DUI under Florida Statutes section 316.193. These penalties include fines between $500 and $1,000, a license suspension of 180 days to 1 year, vehicle impoundment, jail time of up to 6 months, and 50 hours of community service.

If you get convicted of DUI, the offense will be on your permanent criminal record. A criminal conviction will be visible to potential employers who perform background checks, so you may face challenges in getting a job. If you are applying for college, the admissions office may reject your application because of your criminal history. Finally, if you are currently a student, your school may suspend you or put you on probation for getting in trouble with the law.

Depending on the circumstances of your underage DUI case, you could get charged for additional crimes, such as:

The Administrative Penalties for Underage DUI

If your underage DUI case passes only through administrative channels, the penalty for a first offense will be a 6-month administrative license suspension and a fine between $1,000 and $2,000. For a second offense, you may face a 1-year license suspension, and fines between $2,000 and $4,000.

When your BAC is greater than .05, you will be unable to obtain the reinstatement of your license until you pass a substance abuse evaluation and course (which you will have to pay for). If you refuse to submit to a roadside breathalyzer test when the police pull you over, you will face an automatic 18-month license suspension.

Fighting the Administrative Suspension of Your License

From an administrative standpoint, your Florida drivers license after a DUI conviction is suspended from the moment you either refuse the roadside breath test or blow over .02. The arresting officer will give you a citation, which will also function as a 10-day temporary driving permit. During this time, you must request a formal review hearing, as a result of which you will be issued a 30-day temporary license.

In normal DUI cases, there may be downsides to requesting a formal review hearing of the administrative suspension of your license, but in underage DUI cases, there are no drawbacks. This means that any time you are confronted with the suspension of your license for underage DUI, you should hire a lawyer to fight your case at the administrative hearing.

If you win your hearing, your license will be returned to you and the suspension will be removed from your driving record. If you lose, your license will continue being suspended until the suspension period runs its course or until you obtain a hardship license for business or employment purposes.

Collateral Consequences of an Underage DUI Conviction

In addition to the consequences of having a possible Florida DUI conviction on your criminal record, there may be collateral consequences for having your underage DUI recorded on your driving history. In the worst-case scenario, your insurance companies may terminate or refuse to renew your policy. The best-case scenario would involve paying significantly higher premiums for five years after your underage DUI charge in Florida.

How a Sarasota Underage DUI Lawyer Can Help You

You should retain the services of an experienced Sarasota DUI lawyer to represent you at your administrative and criminal hearings for underage DUI. Erika Valcarcel graduated from one of the best-rated schools in the nation for trial advocacy, and learned the ins and outs of the criminal justice system working as a prosecutor. Now, she puts her exceptional experience to use in defending the rights of the accused. Call Sarasota underage DUI lawyer Erika Valcarcel, Criminal Defense Lawyer, P.A. today at (941) 363-7900 for a free and confidential consultation of your case.